Fortunately, flat tires don't happen very often and you may go a long time without using the spare in your trunk. Nevertheless, a good spare can mean the difference between being stranded on the road for hours and successfully making your way to an auto service shop after getting a flat tire.
Here are some mistakes to avoid to keep your spare tire in good shape and to ensure safety when using a replacement tire.
1. Using the Spare for Longer Than Necessary
If your spare tire is the conventional, small-sized donut tire, experts recommend that you use it only for a limited distance, ideally less than 70 miles. This is generally the distance you would need to cover to get to the nearest service shop.
A donut tire does not have the same robust capabilities as your normal car tire. The donut is small (for easy storage), comes with a basic rim, and does not have adequate tread to safely move a vehicle over a long distance. Therefore, postponing an actual tire repair session and driving around with a donut spare tire increases the risk of an auto accident.
2. Assuming the Spare Is Always in Good Shape
Even if you have never used your spare, do not assume that the tire is in a good condition. Your spare tire loses air naturally even if it doesn't have a leak. Always check for things like cracks, impact bulges, and other damages before mounting the spare tire to the wheels.
Also be sure that your spare tires, whether donut or full-sized, are inflated at the correct pressure to mitigate potentially fatal accidents. SaferCar.org, an organization under the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, warns that underinflation is one of the major causes of tire failure, and they advise that you check the pressure in your spare tire at least monthly as you check your normal tires.
3. Exposing the Spare to Weather Elements
Proper storage can prolong the life of your spare tire. Keeping the spare in the open or at the back or under the vehicle can expose the tire to sun damage and wear and tear. If you cannot store the spare in the car, consider a cover to protect the tire from weather and debris damage. Be sure to inspect your spare tire at least once per month to check for signs of wear and tear.
4. Neglecting Your Tools
Carrying a spare tire without having the right tools is not beneficial. Be sure to store the appropriate tools to facilitate tire changes if needed. These include a jack, lug wrench, flashlight wheel wedges, and the vehicle owner's manual. Inspect and clean your tools regularly to keep them in good shape.
5. Speeding on Your Spare
Spare tires, especially the compact donut type, have a mileage and speed limit. Ideally, maintain a maximum speed of 50mph even if you are in dire need to get to an auto shop.
Given the tire's speed limitations, avoid driving with a donut spare tire on the highway. Instead, call your towing company to repair your tire or haul the vehicle to your mechanic.
6. Failing to Replace Your Spare
Consider investing in a new spare tire, especially if you bought a used car. Even if you hardly use your spare tire, heat and sunlight accelerate aging, which compromises the tire's integrity. The consequences include tire failure, which can result in a crash when you attempt to use your spare tire.
You should also visit the National Highway Traffic Safety website to check whether the type of spare tire you have has been recalled for safety issues.
Even if you think you will never need to change a flat tire, carrying a spare with you can make all the difference. Whether you have been in an accident or need help changing a tire, you can depend on the professionals at Hix Wrecker Service to provide you with reliable towing and roadside services.